In 1799, during Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovered a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria.
The irregularly shaped stone contained fragments of passages written in three different languages, which were three versions of the same decree, issued at Memphis, Egypt in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty. The decree was inscribed in Egyptian hieroglyphic (which was used for important or religious documents), in Egyptian demotic (the common script, used for daily communication) and in Ancient Greek (the language of the administration)
The stone was originally displayed in a temple, then it was probably moved during the early Christian or medieval period, and was eventually used as building material.
Many historians think that the Rosetta Stone text was written in those three languages so that most Egyptians could understand it. This fact was the key to deciphering the hieroglyphic language, and after numerous attempts French scholar Jean-Francois Champollion was able to crack the code in 1822
Meanwhile, British troops had defeated the French in Egypt in 1801, and the original stone had come into British possession and transported to London.
It has been on public display at the British Museum almost continuously since 1802, where it is the most-visited object .